SBI Study Group December 4th, 2010 “Genuine Happiness” (notes based on teachings given by Dr. B. Alan Wallace)
First Meditation Session: Loving Kindness (Metta in Pali, Maitri in Sanskrit)
PART III: Cultivating a Good Heart—Discuss and explore the following:
May we all be endowed with happiness and its causes. (metta-loving kindness)
May we all be free of suffering and its causes. (karuna-compassion)
May we all experience joy free of dissatisfaction. (mudita-empathetic joy)
May we all dwell in equanimity free of attachment and hostility for those near and far. (upeksha)
1) by practical conduct and an appropriate direction of thought; Lord Buddha taught: “What a
person considers and reflects upon for a long time, to that his mind will bend and incline.”
2) by methodical meditation, engaging faculties of creative thought and imagination
3) practice is based on Buddhist root hypothesis that the inherent nature of sentient beings is pure, pristine awareness or buddha nature, to be directly experienced.
To remedy self-centered attachment, meditate on equanimity.
To remedy aloof indifference, meditate on compassion.
To remedy depression, meditate on empathetic joy and what to rejoice in.
To remedy hedonism, meditate on loving kindness.
Review of Loving Kindness and Compassion:
Next SBI Study Group is Saturday, January 29th, and suggested reading is pp 136-153, “Empathetic Joy and Equanimity.” SBI retreat with Alan Wallace weekend of January 7-9th, 2011. Blessed New Year to all!
All are invited to join weekly meditation practice at Unity Church Sanctuary every Monday evening, 7-8:15 p.m , 227 East Arrelanga St., Santa Barbara. Practice is based on “Attention Revolution.”
First Meditation: Metta or Loving Kindness
Metta or Loving Kindness is recognizing the lovable qualities in ourselves and others. Stability or shamatha arises in this practice as in all immeasuables in the aspiration (not simply a feeling or emotion). Poising us for right action when we engage daily life, poised for loving kind behavior. In Buddhism, ego is insubstantial and practice is to break through self-centeredness and reification of ego-self in oneself and all sentient beings. All sentient beings are those we personally encounter in our daily lives either through our direct experience or imagination.
1. Be physically comfortable, assume formal posture for meditation position. If seated, spine is straight, sternum slightly lifted, abdominal muscles relaxed and loose. Especially relax the shoulders, the neck, face, and particularly soften the eyes, release the jaw, and allow the tongue to gently rest up against the upper palette.
2. Let entry into this practice also be an act of loving kindness to ourselves as we set a welcome mat of ease and letting go, and gently settle the body in its natural state imbued with a balance of the 3 characteristics of relaxation, stillness and vigilance of attention.
3. Calm the mind with mindfulness of breathing for a few minutes in the field of the body. Awareness can be diffuse, as we simply note and observe the tactile sensations of the breath wherever they arise in the space of the body, breathing naturally, effortlessly, gently arousing the attention with every inbreath, and relaxing, releasing and resting more deeply with every outbreath.
4. In the specific practice of metta, we gently arouse our minds and draw on our faculties of imagination, memories and intelligence, and we begin with ourselves, to individually and uniquely envision our own flourishing from this moment forward with courage and clarity.
5. Let us deeply consider what are our most meaningful aspirations… over the short term, the long term…what is our vision for your own realization of genuine happiness, ultimately of enlightenment and true freedom, and also relatively in our daily experience. What kind of person would we like to become, what would we like to receive from the world, what would we like to offer to the world?
6. Now imagine your body to be empty—literally an empty form, just a matrix of appearances, just form in space, in and of space, and
7. In the center of the heart chakra (center of chest), imagine the deepest dimension of our awareness (called by many names in different traditions), your buddha nature, primordial awareness, and symbolically visualize this as a radiant orb of Light, about a ½” in diameter, an inexhaustible well spring of loving kindness, of primordial purity, the Light of Joy, our ultimate source of and ground of all our inner resources
8. With each inbreath, draw in from this radiant Source, like drawing from a deep well spring, and with each outbreath, allow the aspiration to arise, “May I find the happiness that I seek—freedom, joy, meaning. Imagine Light saturating the whole field of the body, and permeating the entire mind with the Light of loving kindness.
9. Arouse the aspiration : “May I be free of enmity. May I be free of affliction.
May I be free of anxiety. May I be well and happy.”
10. Then call to mind those in our life whom we genuinely love and admire, who are easy to love, and have shown us their love and compassion. And with every outbreath, extend the Light of loving kindness with the wish, “May each of you realize your heart’s desire, your innermost aspirations, may you each be well and happy.”
11. Let this Light and this wish now expand to those individuals who are neutral in our lives, through whose kind efforts and labor our lives are more safe and comfortable.
12. And now let this radiant Light and wish of loving kindness expand to those individuals in our life who are difficult, the distinctive ones. Let us penetrate through the veneer of afflictive behavior and temperament to the sentient being of the same essence as ourselves and pray: “May you be
free of enmity. May you be free of affliction. May you be free of anxiety. May you be well and happy.”
13. Now let the Light expand in all directions, to all realms of being, and with each outbreath, send out the prayer “May we all be well and happy.”
14.Now, for a few moments, release all appearances and aspirations, and the mind itself, and allow all to dissolve in simple awareness here and now, simply illuminating its own nature, and let’s bring the session to a close.
Second Meditation: Compasssion and Wisdom
1. Resume formal posture for practice as we make our practice a true act of kindness and compassion for ourselves by resting at ease in stillness that is balanced with alertness and vigilance.
2. Let awareness come to rest in the silent space of the body mindfully present
3. Relax deeply into respiration, letting it settle in its own natural rhythm, releasing all effort and control, simply attending to the breath’s ebb and flow throughout the field of the body
4. Now arouse wisdom, memory and intelligence and consider: could it be so simply true that the reification of the body makes us vulnerable to all manner of physical pain? And exactly in the same process of reification into “my mind, my feelings my thoughts, my desires,” could this be what causes all manner of mental suffering?
5. Imagine, might it be possible to be conscious and alive, as in a lucid dream, and be free of suffering, not because we are anesthesized, but because we are seeing and perceiving reality as it is?
6. If we can envision this possibility, bearing in mind the great maxim of William James: “there are some things that become true only if we first believe them to be true,” then that inspires us to realize that truth?
7. With each inbreath then, arouse the aspiration for such freedom that is complete and irreversible, and imagine all the veils of ignorance, of delusion, of misapprehending the nature of reality. With each inbreath, imagine this yearning to be free, and this darkness of ignorance and delusion being drawn into the radiant orb of light of buddha nature at the heart center. And with each exhalation, imagine it all utterly vanishing, and of genuinely being free..
8. Now expand field of awareness to other sentient beings, and begin by embracing each person in this room, each one striving for happiness and being free from this vulnerability to suffering as a sentient being….With each inbreath imagine drawing in the darkness of ignorance and delusion and allowing this shadow to utterly vanish in the Light of compassion and wisdom at the heart.
9. Then expand awareness evenly in all directions, over the land to those who are rich/poor, benevolent/malevolent, attractive/unattractive, arousing the yearning “may we all be free…”
10. Then allow the clarity of vision especially illuminate those who are most troubled and afflicted, whose behavior may be harmful to themselves and to others. Arouse the yearning, may they especially be free….
11. Now expanding the field of awareness to all sentient beings in all directions, no boundaries, human/non-human, excluding no one, sincerely raise the question: how might all sentient beings be free? And consider, only with genuine guidance to point out here is suffering and here is a path out of suffering. Who then will guide them? As we reach into the depths of buddha nature, we may respond: I shall—however long it may take, for as long as space remains and there are sentient beings….
12. Taking this as our resolve and our commitment, then how shall we make it realistic and be able to carry it through? Only be freeing ourselves first, and drawing from our deepest resources of wisdom and compassion, and the power to liberate by becoming fully awake.
13. Finally, arouse the aspiration: May I ever so swiftly realize perfect awakening for the sake of my own liberation and to liberate all sentient beings, and bring each one to genuine happiness and fulfillment….
14. Now, for a few moments, release all aspirations, and allow all to dissolve in simple awareness here and now, illuminating its own nature without an object…
15. And as we bring this session to a close, let us individually dedicate the merit, the spiritual benefit, of our practice tonight, as I repeat this traditional Prayer of Dedication:
“Wherever the precious, supreme spirit of awakening, has not arisen, may it arise, and where it has arisen, may it never decline, but grow stronger and stronger.
May what we have practiced here tonight be of benefit,
May we each realize the fulfillment of our most meaningful aspirations for our own sake and the sake of all sentient beings, and
May all beings be well and happy….